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April 30, 2007

Park stealers


Those Columbus Day fiends were at it again. This weekend, when they weren't even filming, they tried to tie up Echo Park Lake with cones and tape. They might have gagged it, too, if they thought they could get away with the deed. Fortunately, a concerned neighbor noticed this illegal blocking of the park -- it is public space, after all -- and was not about to tolerate efforts to keep the citizens of Echo Park and beyond from enjoying their own lake on such a beautiful day.

Reportedly, all it took was one angry call to Aric, a location manager, and the park-stealer elves came back out in force and took down the tape, and the cones went away too. Just like magic.

April 25, 2007

Chickens/Dog fur protection act

We haven't talked chickens in a while. I am sure that their numbers in Echo Park have dropped dramatically in recent gentrification years. And not just in terms of representation at Chicken Corner. But they're not all gone. My daughter has a few favorites that she likes to tease through the chain link fence of their home. She likes to say "Cucuy!" to them. I also know a few people who keep them, and occasionally I hear roosters, though not constantly as I used to when I lived on Sargent Place. And a couple of days ago I saw a brown and black hen. She was on Whitmore. Strutting along on the sidewalk. I slowed the car to look at her. I thought about driving on, but then I thought of loose dogs and the like, and so I pulled over to see if I could help the chicken back to her pen or yard. Whichever the case. She hurried ahead of me to a driveway. There was a woman nearby, on the street, and I asked her for information regarding the chicken. She'd never heard of any chicken. So I knocked on a door. An amiable Latino kid answered. He was about 13, had a big chain around his neck and a buzz cut. He didn't know anything about a chicken, though he did come down to the sidewalk to see if he could get a look at it. The next people I asked were some anglos getting out of a white van. Didn't know anything about a chicken, but the guy did go back to the van and ask a guy in the driver's seat. At which I heard an English accent. "He (sic) goes everywhere," said the accent. "He's fine" roaming the sidewalks of Whitmore. So I left our feathered flaneur to her perambulations and went clucking about my own business.


I had never heard this before, but apparently dog and cat fur is sometimes used for clothing sold as "faux" fur. According to the Humane Society of the United States, our local U.S. representative in the House of Congress, Xavier B., is a member of a committee now considering the Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act. Last I heard, Becerra had an office in the former Caltrans Building -- right above the Brite Spot on Sunset. I was thinking about walking over to this outpost with my dog to urge the Honorable do the humane thing. Then I was going to go downstairs and order eggs for breakfast. But then I decided that, rather than tie up my dog outside the Brite Spot, I would drop the letter in the mail. Or email. (Cheerios it is.) And how could Becerra not co-sponsor such a bill? Don't tell me trade with China depends on dog fur.

The following comes by way of the political arm of the Humane Society, by way again of an energetic Los Angeles animal services worker named Laura Weekes. Dear folks, the letter says:

Your U.S. representative, Xavier Becerra, is a member of a key committee that is now considering the Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act, and therefore your help is critical in this important effort:
H.R. 891 would help keep dog fur off the racks and protect you and your family from thinking it's faux and accidentally buying it. As you may know, a recent investigation by The Humane Society of the United States found jackets trimmed with dog fur sold by some of the biggest names in fashion. Much of this fur trim is coming from China, where dogs, cats, and raccoon dogs are skinned alive. Consumers were outraged by these findings, and now Congress needs to stop this cruel deception.
PLEASE TAKE JUST A MOMENT RIGHT NOW to call Rep. Becerra at (202) 225-6235. Making a call is easy. All you need to say is:
"I am a constituent and I am calling to ask that Rep. Becerra please protect animals and consumers by co-sponsoring H.R. 891, the Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Enforcement Act. It is outrageous that fur-trimmed apparel is being falsely advertised as fake fur when it is really dog fur. I hope Rep. Becerra will co-sponsor this important bill and help to pass it quickly. Thank you.
After you have made your phone call, please send a quick follow-up email.
Sincerely, Wayne Pacelle >President & CEO >The Humane Society of the United States

April 24, 2007

Columbus Day parking

A reader, who asks that his/her name not be used emailed me yesterday with the following observation regarding the major motion picture that has parked in Echo Park for the next three weeks or so:

I drove down Park Ave. about an hour ago and saw the Midnight Mission van parked right next to the production vans and star trailers. There was a long line of people waiting for food. I thought that only in L.A. do you have a major film being shot right next to a queue of hungry people who can't afford a meal.
Kind of made me want to raid the craft services table and pull a little Robin Hood action.
I guess the silver lining is that the production company let the Midnight Mission van park in the no-parking zone. Small victories.

April 23, 2007

Parking, a major motion picture

Looks like it's not just the Dodgers organization who have it in for Echo Park residents who want to park in their own neighborhood. There has been an uproar since last week when Echo Parkers -- especially those who live near the lake -- began calling the production offices of "Columbus Day," the working title of a major film that wanted to hog all the traffic spots on both sides of all streets around Echo Park Lake for something like four years (or make that three weeks, not much difference, though). The People of Echo Park also requested "no fully automatic gunfire." "It's an insult to Echo Park," one email making the rounds said.

This morning, TMZ got a special scoop when a location manager shouted an obscenity at the spouse of a TMZ staffer -- because Val Kilmer had no place to use a toilet. So sad it had to come to this -- a battle between toilets and cars.

Reportedly, the production staff was surprised at the uproar and has agreed to make major adjustments in its take-all-the-parking-spaces plans. No word yet if they have any takers on the $50 offer to be an extra that neighbors received. Maybe they're all making use of "a mysterious shuttle service from nowhere to nowhere" as one resident described the production's hasty offer to provide transportation.

Eric Garcetti's office is said to have been flooded with angry calls about the production.

Here's part of an email from the Echo-Elysian forum:

Columbus Day the Movie wants to shut down Lemoyne Street, Logan St. Park Ave and Echo Park Ave. for 3 weeks no parking. Please call right now and complain. No way can they have both sides of 4 major streets around Echo Park Lake for 3 weeks! (4/23,24,26,27, 5/1-4, and 5/8-11.)

Also, tell them absolutely no to Fully Automatic
Gunfire. This is an insult to Echo Park and how we
are considered. Please call immediately. No to
taking our parking and no to gunfire.

According to the same email, the troduction office # is: 213-977-8600. hit 0.

April 20, 2007

Fuzzy math

Curbed LA rolled over to Rosemont school last night to check the latest on 9A. Curbed's report includes an LAUSD bigfoot claiming to stand by the district's numbers.

If you're just tuning in, 9A is the LAUSD's name for the proposed site for an elementary school. The District chased 200 or so people out of their homes several months ago. And now it's doing an environmental impact review.

Show me the win win

So, as they say, today is yesterday's tomorrow. And today is the day the Dodgers planned to open the Fifth Gate, which would let thousands of cars -- along with garbage and noise makers (if the Dodgers win) -- loose into our residential neighborhood. Unless the rain impacts that eventuality. A hastily announced neighborhood meeting Wednesday night was so crowded I had to be rude and push my way inside, past people who were standing outside Barlow Hall, trying to hear Dodgers VP Howard Sunkin describe the Dodgers "pilot program." (Not my finest moment, but I am short and stood no chance of seeing or hearing what was going on if I stayed on the patio.) Inside, there were four television news cameras and other cameras, and around the hall it was an all-star cast of old-guard, civics-involved Echo Park. One man sat on the piano bench in the corner. I kept wishing he'd offer some accompaniment. Like the Dodgers' chords between plays or like a silent movie. Because this meeting was quite a show, even though it was remarkably orderly.

The people who attended were overwhelmingly, often passionately opposed to opening the Fifth Gate. But the issue is going to play out in Dodger time as Howard -- as everyone at the meeting called him -- said the "pilot program" would extend until the All Stars break (read a few months from now).

Chicken Corner's issue today, because the gates ARE going to open soon, is the meeting itself. I found the Dodgers' presentation appalling. For one thing, they haven't done traffic studies. They said they will study the traffic as "the program" plays out. For another, it appears they have done very little to promote public transportation access to the stadium. One man who spoke during question-and-answer said that he lives in Los Feliz. He said he wanted to take the public bus to the stadium. When he went to the Dodgers website to find out about city bus routes to the stadium, there was nothing. There was a map for cars. The city bus maps weren't helpful either. He finally found out that he could take the 2 bus. Which he did. It left him off on Sunset, which is a fairly long walk to the gates, and when he got off the bus, only three other people got off, too. This was on opening day. There was no talk of shuttles from Union Station. When the topic of shuttles arose, Howard said that depended on the "will" of the MTA and other city agencies. (But when the man from Los Feliz mentioned that it was a long walk from Sunset, Howard immediately said, Done. "We'll get the buses up there.")

(Howard also promised dozens of city cops -- at Dodger expense -- along the egress route down Scott Avenue, but I heard that a staffer for one of the city council reps didn't believe Howard had the power to get them on the street by Friday.)

Then, there's manners, which are ironically relevant here because that's one piece of the issue: the behavior of fans as they leave the stadium grounds, and the ball team's respectful treatment of the neighborhoods near the stadium.

For better or worse, I am the kind of person who thinks demeanor matters. I try to see my way around this mindset, but it’s not automatic. (Though I’d like to think that if I ever met Putie, I’d see deeper than W did.) So I went to the meeting expecting to be charmed – and ready not to be. But the Dodgers’ Howard took few pains. (If it seems like I am getting personal, here is the reason: The Dodgers send Howard to talk to the community, which makes Howard the Dodgers.) After the news cameras left the Dodgers didn't try to pretend he wasn't bored. He often didn't listen to people or look at them during the question-and-answer-and-comment period of the meeting. (I should mention that the meeting was about two-and-a-half hours long. We're not talking all night here.)

One woman, named Cricket, who has lived in the neighborhood since before the big gentrification of this century, went to the podium, got ready to speak, then interrupted herself. "Howard!" she called. "I'm over here." Then she put on her southern manners, and said, "I am so glad you came here to talk to us today." Followed by her doubts that she was getting into a win-win situation.

While no one wants the gates to open, people seem divided over what they actually want to ask of the Dodgers -- now that we seem to be in the position of being the askers. Some want it shut. Others want to agree that it be opened under a variety of conditions: that it never be opened for day games; that it only be opened for DASH buses and large carpools. There were some creative suggestions tossed out from the public at the podium -- maybe not the newest, but why not try it, like free parking for 8 people or more in a vehicle. (One Dodgers affiliated person said that didn't work when they tried it with four. Well, can we try again?) A former deputy for Jackie Goldbert suggested the Dodgers buy more parking spaces in an industrial area off San Fernando -- and shuttle the fans to the stadium.

On one point we ALL were cozy: the issue is bigger than the gate. We have to figure out a way to get fewer cars into the stadium parking lots.

April 19, 2007

Big foots loose in Echo Park/9A/fruit forage*

Yes, there were four television camera's present at last night's neighborhood council meeting in which the Dodgers barely even attempted to put a smiley face on their "pilot" program to open the dreaded fifth gate. More on that to follow.

But the Dodgers are not the only behemoth attempting to run unbridled in Echo Park. There's also the LAUSD. In what looks like a race to get 50 houses razed before board member David Tokofsky leaves office (as who knows what his successor will do when she replaces him in July) the LAUSD is pushing ahead with its 9A plan to build a school where no one of any race, class or age in the vicinity wants one -- at the expense of 50 houses. The District, which sought to avoid conducting an Environmental Impact Review, recently lost a court battle waged by grass-roots organizations in the neighborhood. The court ordered that the review take place if the LAUSD wished to pursue the project. Part of such a review involves public comment. The opportunity, possibly the only one, for such comment is being offered tonight:

Site 9A Public Hearing: Meeting Date & Time: Thursday, April 19 at 6 PM. Location: Rosemont Elementary School Auditorium, 421 N. Rosemont at Temple St.


Also happening Thursday night, compliments of Machine Project:

Dear Friends, The Fallen Fruit Collective is leading a Nocturnal Fruit Forage this Thursday 4/19 at 6:30pm in Silver Lake at Triangle park (at Sunset and Griffith Park Blvd). The walking tour is expected to last about an hour to 90 minutes. We’ll be harvesting some lovely organic produce and identifying the best trees for summer harvest! Fallen Fruit will provide maps of the area, talk about Public Fruit, and fruitfully answer your questions. Everyone is welcome to bring fruit pickers and bags; walking shoes and flashlights are also good. Afterwards everyone will meet up at Machine for tea and fruit vivisection, accompanied by a cornucopia of song by singer Emily Lacy.

Other "suggested accessories" for the walk include "interdimensional navigation
systems, and moon boots. Re-entry diapers strongly discouraged."

Friday, Machine Project will present a reading of science fiction literature. If you haven't seen their site in a while it now shares a photo of an amazing, 21st-century machine: the Puppy Mover Monorail, complete with puppies.

April 18, 2007

Gates make TV

A wind-whistling day. Hoping we're not going to lose power for the eight or nine hours we lost it last week. I still have a freezer full of food I know I should probably throw out from last Thursday. Meanwhile, the lonely Scott Avenue Gates, the Billy Preston Gates I now learn they're called by some, have been in the media glare. This morning, a reporter from KTLA was wandering around, looking for people to interview concerning the Dodgers sudden, "We're doing it this Friday!" announcement about the gates. (It reminds me of an airline pilot in a different country I visited once, shouting over the intercom, "It's very important you put on your seatbelts right now, we're landing!!!" And then the plane tilted down. I assumed we were crashing, but the other passengers looked business-as-usual, so I realized it was just the pilot's style of communication. Or maybe he forgot to tell us earlier. Maybe the Dodgers meant to tell the neighborhood about opening the flood gates earlier, too. Then, as long as I'm thinking about opening the gates, I remember there was a disastrous flood in the Valley in 1992 because the Sepulveda Dam authorities opened its real flood gates in a very last-minute fashion.)

I missed KTLA's broadcast about the gates, but heard that the reporter made a joke of the issue, climbing the fence, trying to get the gates open, suggesting that Echo park residents be paid money -- from the profits gained by the parking fee hikes -- to appease them. Later in the morning, I got a call from a reporter at KABC, who is doing a story that's supposed to be on tonight at 6 pm. Missed his call. I was out in the neighborhood, which was sunny and wind-lashed. Seed pods and paper trash blowing around. Eyes stinging.

I have just heard that there will be a third TV news item about it at 6 -- this one on Channel 4. Anyone else?

I'm not sure if the present media glare is better or worse than the time TV cameramen and reporters were creeping across our then-unfenced front yard because a televised car chase had just ended in the cul de sac above our street in Echo Park. The gang guys who used to live and hang out on the street laughed as the car-chase guys were arrested. "Shoulda turned THAT way!" It was a party, but it was a sad one.

April 17, 2007

Stadium called public resource*

Not everyone in Echo Park thinks the Scott Avenue gate should remain closed. One reader, Chris Peiffer, who says he moved to EP to be near Dodger Stadium, calls for the gates to open:

Dodgers Stadium is a national and a municipal treasure whose existence in Echo Park predates the vast majority of the residents. They knew it was there when they moved in. I myself moved to Echo Park last year to be as close to it as possible.
I think it's a shame that the Scott gate is closed, and that the only pedestrian entrance is on Elysian.
This is a public resource, and these are public streets. Are you also sympathetic to the Malibu homeowners who put up fences and do their best to thwart beach access? Do you rejoice when you see a gated community?
Your huffy provincial homeowner's hysteria is disheartening and hypocritical, given your past views on the blog. A vibrant public ceremony where 50,000 Angelenos from all neighborhoods and walks of life come together in common interest 80 times a year in a public space? We should be proud and happy it exists at all, let alone within walking distance.

Well, without getting my feathers in a ruffle, I'd like to point out that I am not suggesting that the Dodgers fly away to Chicago. Just that tens of thousands of drivers not pour through a residential, two-lane street that has been closed for over a decade. As for homeowner's hysteria: I felt this much MORE strongly about Scott Avenue traffic when I was RENTING a home on Sargent Place off of Scott. Also, the Scott Avenue resident who sent me the note I posted earlier today, says she also is a renter. Renters have the right to a livable neighborhood, too. The push to close the Scott Avenue gates happened before the big gentrification of Echo Park.

Peiffer calls the stadium a public resource, and I call it one, too. But safe neighborhoods and informed communities are a public resource also.

All auto traffic said and hopfeully moved, I think it's cool that Peiffer moved to the neighborhood to be near the Dodgers. Echo Park has always attracted people of passion.

April 16, 2007

Dodgers traffic hungry for Scott

Apparently, the Dodgers organization is looking to Echo Park as a solution for its parking woes. As if the fiasco, no make that the debacle of opening day traffic weren't enough. They want to reopen the Scott Avenue gates, which have been closed for about eleven years -- shut in response to pressure from residents of Echo Park along with then-councilwoman Jackie Goldberg. The Dodgers of the late 1990s agreed that massive traffic cutting through the residential neighborhood was not appropriate or respectful. Now we hear that the new organization wants to reopen Scott gates to out-going vehicles. Keep in mind that Scott Avenue, in Echo Park, is a two-lane, two-way street.

I received the following email from a resident of Scott Ave.:

Just wanted to let you know the Dodger Organization is planning on re-opening the Scott Gate beginning on Friday without community input. They plan on presenting their "traffic plan" at the Parks and Public Works Committee of [the Echo-Elysian neighborhood council] this Wednesday, 7 pm, at Barlow Hospital.

Neigborhood reps heard late Monday of the Scott Ave. plan and the Dodgers intention to inform the neighborhood at Wednesday's meeting. Speedy work.

Barlow Hospital: 2000 Stadium Way, Los Angeles, 90026.

Doves/Hipster hoe down*

Photo: Doves, April 2007
By Martin Cox

Martin Cox sent me this picture of the much aforementioned doves of Echo Park Lake. I just heard from Mauri Avelino that there are still eight doves in the park. Maybe they're turning feral...which would be a good thing.

*Martin also reports that the doves have been in the park every day. He counts eight, too. Says they fly to nearby rooftops when "shooed away." Shooed away? You'd have to be a hard case. Or bird shy.


Yesterday evening, a short two blocks from EP Lake found my husband and daughter and myself, along with our friends Paul, Ann, Eric and Rebecca at The Echo nigthclub and patio club. It was country music Sunday, no cover from 5 to 9 p.m., three bands and a cash barbecue out back. We almost didn't go in because the high noise level frightened our 2-year-old and 3-year-old daughters. And I didn't know The Echo had a patio. Except that, duh, who doesn't nowadays in the age of marginalized smoking? In a rush to get outdoors, we hurried past a band I would have liked to watch, four women in red kerchief-fabric, singing and playing their hearts out (Maybe the 5 O'Clock Somewhere band?). I heard that the lead singer is a bartender at the Shortstop bar, a few blocks east on Sunset.

And the patio, such as it is, turned out to be a good time. It's not pretty. The walls are painted black. The pavement slopes -- basically, it's just a fenced in parking area, called a patio. And water cost $3. But there was acoustic music, three-piece, which was a lot of fun, and there was a good crowd, which swelled over the hour to hour-and-a-half we were there. A few smokers, which makes me hesitate to recommend this nightclub for kids, but not so many that we inhaled smoke at close range. The air was better than when we're sitting outside at Chango or the Downbeat. But it was, in fact, all ages. Lots of hip middle 30s, 40s, 50s. People who squint at MySpace. Corss-referenced in folks in black, as well as some country glamour. And all-around-musician types. Urban rockabilly lovers, I would guess, too. By the time we left -- to have pizza at Masa a few doors down -- it was still daylight, and the club was crowded indoors and "patio."

The toddlers may have been in their element at The Echo -- where they jumped, danced and squealed to the music. But they tore the place up at Masa (where they were the only kids, which was not the case at The Echo). It may be a while before we show our faces there again. We'll have to order our deep dish pizza to go, and pick it up wearing Mexican wrestlers' masks.

Which makes me wonder what ever happened to Super Barrio?

All access park

Saturday morning, the neighborhood scrubbed after Thursday's wind storm, which cleared trees and other plants of loose branches and liberated part of our backyard fence from its moorings. Something about a fence that wants to blow over. I walked down to Peter Shire's studios with my daughter and my friend Paul Bowers to the neighborhood council open house, where our suggestions for public improvements were being sought. Peter made cappuccino, which he served promptly to each new adult arrival. We all stood -- and some of us played -- amid the striped pots and the dozens and dozens of metal angel sculptures, which hang joyously from the rafters. Paul put in a request for better wheelchair access to Elysian Park. He lives near the park and finds it to dangerous to enter the well-used western trail by any of the unofficial entries that are used by hundreds of people every day. (The dirt trail itself is wheelchair-usable.)

As coincidence would have it, later the same day, I received an email from Emma Rosenthal, who is new to the neighborhood and wrote that she had found Chicken Corner (dot com) while searching for information on Elysian Park. On separate sites, Emma blogs about politics, art, and about life as a wheelchair user. She said:

I use a motorized scooter and am looking for a walking trail that is accessible to a wheelchair/scooter. A quick drive through the park was quite infuriating as was a trip to the dog park in Silver Lake, which is not wheelchair accessible. Dogs, no gimps allowed!!! I need a space for my dog to run. I used to hike, but can't anymore. A nice path for me and my dog would be great, but most of the trials, though they have a terrain that is accessible, are blocked off to vehicles, including wheelchairs. I was wondering if you knew a well traveled path in the park where i could take my dog off leash and roll along with her.

We exchanged a couple of emails, and she added:

Some of the trails could be made accessible by simply making the entrance level. All it would take is a shovel.

I should say here that it's illegal to walk dogs off-leash in Elysian Park, though it's common practice. Every now and then a dog walker gets a nice fat ticket when the ranger comes through. So far, I've been lucky in that regard. Haven't had to pay the price for my doggy's free trots.

April 12, 2007

The return of Arthur?

Just came across: Idolator reported on April 6 that Arthur Magazine was coming back. Its source was a post on I love Music by Jay Babcock, who claims to have regained control of the well-loved, but only occassionally published indie magazine.

Babcock (assuming it's really him) writes:

Arthur has been recalled to life. I bought Laris's 50 percent interest in the magazine thanks to the efforts of family and friends. Now I own 100% and am moving forward with all Arthur activities as quickly as possible. Apologies for the interruption in service. To celebrate the occasion, we've posted the whole ALAN MOORE ON PORNOGRAPHY piece from Arthur Magazine V1 N25 online on our Magpie blog.
Oh, the places you'll go!/Pit bull curio

A running theme with my daughter, Madeleine, is the things she cannot do because she is two years old. For so many things she has to be five, six, even seven years old, sometimes just three. She tries to sit in the front seat of the car, “you have to be twelve,” and so on. I am frequently assigning numbers to activities out of reach. Then, this morning, I am walking, alone, in front of the Echo nightclub – on my way to Par Paint,* across the street – and I see an 8x11.5 sheet of white paper, taped to a light pole and blowing in the wind, advertising for a drummer. The thing that catches my eye is the prominent age restrictions, so precisely decided: Seeking drummer, age 20 to 31. Oh, no! I have already been 32! And what’s wrong with 32? Or 33? Or…never mind. I never wanted to be a drummer anyway. My daughter is a good drummer (no kidding) but she’s missing a zero. And she’s never heard of the other specs – the bands the flyer says you have to like, if you happen to be 20 to 31 years old. Meanwhile at The Echo, the nightclub has decided to fill some of what is probably downtime with all-ages country-music shows. Every Sunday, from 5 to 9 p.m. And free, too. We’re planning to go.

Perhaps the Echo’s proprietors read the interview in Arthur magazine (I miss you, Arthur! Is it true you may be coming back?) with one of the members of the MC5 – I forget which. He said he has always considered all-ages shows to be the best and coolest. Of course, this coming from a man in his upper 60s (if not beyond), but I believe him when he says he’s always felt this way.

Makes me think of the Los Angeles Times story this Sunday about the dancer Marion Scott. She’s 84, uses a walker, and will be performing her 10th installment of her “Spirit Dances” series at Highways next week. She dances with her arms and upper body. So…if you heard you have to be 20 to be a professional dancer, you heard wrong.

*One of Par Paint’s claims to the right to charge high prices is that it has been installed in its Sunset Blvd. storefront for over 50 years. Another claim is the boutique paints it carries.


Echo Curio gallery is going doggy with “The Pit and the Pendulum,” an exhibition/semi-benefit of Sara Press and other artists, opening this Saturday.

Press release describes it:

The Pit and the Pendulum: Breeding Wild into Domesticity, a group exhibition with featured artist Sara Press, will have an opening this Saturday, April 14th from 6pm-midnight at Echo Curio in Echo Park. Press' work, etchings and drawings of pit bulls, examines the historical culture of dogfighting, and looks at the uniquely human ability to simultaneously love something and sacrifice it.

There will be several sweet dogs at the event who are in need of
adoptive homes, and a portion of the proceeds from sales of artwork
will be donated to dog rescue organizations.

One quibble with the press release (and perhaps the art): I do not believe that the “ability to simultaneously love something and sacrifice it” is uniquely human. For example, I ran across a National Geographic story recently (the issue given to me by Kaki Wall, a longtime Echo Park personage) that contained some remarkable photos of a leopard who had just killed a female baboon. After killing the baboon the cat noticed that the baboon had an infant. The cat watched over the infant for four hours and then carried it into a tree, where it snuggled with the baby primate. The baby died of exposure some time later and only then did the cat return to the dead mother, to eat her.

April 10, 2007

Rag time/Dodger doves

Echo Park, as I have understood it, never exported clothing fashion until this century, but -- as is well documented -- in recent years it has outdone itself in regard to being a launching pad for indie designers.* New Yorker writer Patricia Marx, for one, took the time to mock the clothing worn by Chango patrons in a sloppy rush around town -- the point of which seemed to be reinforcing L.A. stereotypes to which Marx already subscribed. Then there are all of the boutiques (such as Show Pony, Custom Jeans and Lucas and a dozen others nearby) which sell the work of young, local designers. One under-30 designer is featured in Tu Ciudad magazine this month. Sara Diaz makes dresses out of French terry fleece, and you leave the neighborhood (in so many ways) to buy them, at Barneys. The Tu Ciudad full page she receives shows Diaz sitting in the window of her red, wood clapboard home, in Echo Park. Smiling mutt dog and a cat in frame, too. According to the article, punk rock brought Diaz to Echo Park. Peter Pan collars followed.

(Disclosure: I recently began freelance copyediting for Tu Ciudad.)

It turns out that, in addition to having Navy SEALs drop from the sky, the Dodgers celebrate the start of their season by releasing doves to fly fly fly. Perhaps an effort to balance the military display the game apparently requires. It was a surprise to me that these two blog threads -- the doves and the Dodgers -- should dovetail (pun intended) so precisely. Today, I found in my in-box two Echo Park Animal Alliance emails concerning the birds and baseball.

First, Danielle wrote:

I noticed that at yesterday's home opener for the Dodgers they released a whole slew of white doves during the opening ceremonies. Could the [lost doves of Echo Park] be some of the flock from a rehearsal? If someone has the info for the community affairs guy maybe we could track down the owners and see if any are missing?

Paula followed with:

I talked to Luther Nelson at He is the one responsible for the dove release at Dodger Stadium. They are actually homing pigeons and all 300 of them returned home to his property. He does releases at weddings and funerals.
The problem arises when people get the idea that they are going to do it themselves for less. They go to pet stores and buy tame white doves, rather than trained homing pigeons, and let them go. These birds meet with tragic endings. Sometimes people even mistakenly buy birds raised for food who can't fly at all. When they open the cage, the birds just sit there on the ground until they're picked off. Luther says he frequently rescues white doves from cemeteries.

Glad to hear the Dodger doves got home safely.


*One exception to the 20th Century fashion blackout in Echo Park is Drea Kadillac, who used to live in Solano Canyon. Drea made hats, which she sold in her own La Brea shop (before Clover) and at Barneys.

April 9, 2007

Updates: geese, dancing teens, doves, Dodgers.


Photo: Goslings, April 2, 2007
By Martin Cox

Saturday, Martin Cox updated the most recent Echo Park Lake goose update (see photo, above) with the following:

The Canada geese in the chicks pic I sent you last Monday were in their first fifteen minutes off the nest. Five made it to the water, two got stuck in the floating island habitat for hours, struggling to exhaustion to escape, a long and happy story of intervention saved them. All seven were united. One died the next night (unknown cause).
But now we have six going strong, facing their first weekend onslaught in the park as the weekend is upon up. The weather is cool and cloudy, which increases their chances.


Who let the dogs doves out?

As for doves, an Echo Park Animal Alliance member named Connie emailed the following to the group:

One [dove] has been perched on a large branch outside my window for over a week. I don't know where it goes at night, but it is on a large branch and seems to like to look inside my window during the day. It seems tame. Is someone missing a white dove/pigeon?

Sounds like Echo Park at large -- not just the lake -- is the recipient of either laughing doves or mourning doves. How beautiful. How sad. Who did this? Did they know this neighborhood is filled with hawks (no pun intended)?

A reader named Jill emailed me the following about the teen-age dancers on Echo Park Avenue.

My boyfriend and I saw [the kids] rehearsing a few times, always to the "Grease" soundtrack. The girls seemed to be having fun, while the boys looked a little humiliated! I think the dog's name is Foxy, by the way.


Broken sky celebration: Monday, shortly after 1 p.m., the sky over Echo Park ripped apart about four times as military jets shredded their way toward Dodger Stadium, where it was Opening Day. Is there a request box at Dodger Stadium? I think I prefer the Stealth Bomber, which years ago -- in the pre-email pr era -- startled me and other neighbors by flying over our houses unannounced. Better drama. And spooky, too!

Big day?/Doves

Quinceanera? A wedding? A prom in April? For several weeks, on weekends, there has been a low-key festive event in an Echo Park Avenue front yard: ten or twelve teen-ish looking kids practicing dancing. They line up facing each other, ostensibly preparing for some kind of formal event or performance in front of the house at Effie and EP Ave. (northwest corner). If there was music, it was turned way low. Same house where my daughter and I often stop to pat one of our favorite dogs -- a beauty, it looks like a coyote-shepherd mix -- through the iron bars of the fence.

Then, this Saturday, the day before Easter, my husband passed the Effie house on his way to Delilah's Bakery and witnessed a variation in the scene. The boys wore elaborate matching tan suits and hats with ribbons. A stretch limo was parked in front. Show time!

Doves: Saturday, in addition to publishing a Chicken Corner post about the doves in Echo Park, I also posted a note on the Echo Park Animal Alliance's list about the tame, vulnerable birds I saw at Echo Park Lake this past weekend. One of the people who responded said the doves "are probably from one of those occasions where [people] release a flock of white doves for dramatic purposes - tame and not able to fend for themselves." Early Easter celebration? A Film crew?

Steve Roche posted on the EP Animal Alliance list the following about "laughing doves" and "mourning doves":

I researched these birds last year after two white ones "fell from the sky" into my yard, and my landlord's dogs got one of them. I rescued the other one, put it in a cage to recover, and later on I bought a mate for it at a local pet store ($12). What I found out is: they are either laughing doves or mourning doves, they don't fly well, they don't fly far, they don't nest very well (they'll lay an egg on a bare windowsill), and the males are impossible to tell from the females. Also, they trade roles, girls acting like boys and boys acting like girls. They don't know enough to be afraid of cats or dogs.
So, yes, anyone with a spare cage should scoop up at least one or two, or they're doomed. They walk around on the ground like chickens and are not afraid of dogs. Ours have laid at least 12 eggs in the past year, and when the babies grow old enough the father usually attacks them (badly) so you have to re-cage them or release them. We've got them all over my yard at Whitmore and Allesandro. They make great pets, by the way, and for me, were something to watch during the long hours sitting on my porch, waiting out months of chemotherapy (which is thankfully over).

Laughing doves and mourning doves. One or the other. Heartbreaking either way.

(Steve also emailed me that he used to live on Avon Street next door to the famous, lovable Lucy the dog (who is part wolf) and her guardians Joe and Heather D'Augustine, all of whom he describes affectionately even though Lucy ate his pet catfish.)

April 7, 2007


I thought they were chickens at first. This morning, driving past Echo Park Lake on my way to take my cousin to the airport we saw a small flock of white birds walking in the grass, looking domestic, their heads too small to be ducks or geese. A couple of hours later, on my way back from the airport, alone, I saw the birds in the same patch of grass in the northeastern corner of the park. I pulled over and got out to see them. A bit larger than pigeons, all white -- with some very light tan markings -- and with red around their eyes and red beaks, it turned out they were doves of some sort. Eight of them. When they saw me approaching, they, in turn began walking toward me. They gathered around my feet, looking bewildered. Either someone dumped them, or they have escaped. I presume the former. I hope they are rescued because I don't expect these lovely creatures will long survive the coyotes, dogs, maybe hawks and brutal humans who move among the animal-lovers at the park.

April 5, 2007

Navy Seals will rain on Echo Park

The Dodgers aim to be good neighbors to Echo Park, so they sent an email around to folks like me informing us that, among other amusements, there will be 10-12 Navy Seals parachuting into the stadium from an aircraft at approximately 12:30 p.m. on April 9, which is opening day. There will also be a flyover by two F-16 Fighter Jets. And much other military-style commotion. Closed streets. All kinds of excitement. At least they said something beforehand. So, cover your eyes, or find a parking space. Get out your Dodger blue camouflage.

Here's the email:

Dear Valued Neighbors: On behalf of the entire Dodger family, we hope you had a wonderful off season.
The Dodger baseball season is just around the corner, and it is of the utmost importance to us to continue our good neighbor policy. So, as we get ready for the start of the 2007 season, we would like to inform you of the following events that will take in conjunction with Opening Day on Monday, April 9, 2007:
• The night before Opening Day, maintenance lights will be on for the duration of the night in preparation for Opening Day Events. We will make every effort to minimize the impact on our neighbors.
• A pre-game concert will take place inside the Stadium starting at approximately noon.
• The pregame ceremony will also include at 10-12 Navy Seals parachuting into the stadium from an aircraft at approximately 12:30pm. There will also be a fly over done by two F-16 Fighter Jets, as well as the Los Angeles City Fire Department at the opening of the game (closer to 1pm).
As in previous years, please keep in mind that the City of Los Angeles will close the following streets on April 9th, from 2:00AM to 8:00PM for staging purposes and preparation for Opening Day ceremonies. These closures will also serve to accommodate employee parking, minimize the inconvenience to neighbors and facilitate traffic flow. Note that local and emergency access will be maintained at all times:
Scott Avenue between Stadium Way and North Boylston Street; North Boylston between Academy and Stadium Way; Lilac Terrace between Stadium Way and Lookout to Stadium.
Finally, since safety is of paramount importance, security and lighting will be provided to safeguard all vehicles and all necessary traffic controls will be in place. Should you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our Neighborhood Focus Line at 323.224.2636.

April 4, 2007


Curbed LA today sets the mighty Echo Park Historical Society in opposition to the entire sea of pink roofs and stucco walls erected in the 1980s. The site cites an LA Times opinion piece in which Mark Kendall argues the tide of public favor is sure to roll in for the Valencia-like developments with all of their stucco. Whose to say he's wrong? Curbed points to EPHS, which long has sought to shoo away the "stucco bird," which has sprayed so many shingled bungalows. Used irresponsibly, it's the SoCal equivalent of aluminum siding.

(For the record, Echo Park has something like seven houses of the faux-Mediterranean, pink roof and stucco walls that Kendall thinks inevitably will become hip.)

(Also for the record, I am on the board of the Echo Park Historical Society but have been involved in none of the stucco politics for which Curbed gives EPHS credit.)

Chicken Corner's two clucks on stucco: A before-and-after photo of any house that was built as wood-sided and then covered with stucco will end any discussion over the merits of stucco. The Thing about stucco is it gets dingy. Soot and black dust land on all of those little pebbly ledges. And, of course, there's the way our own minds' eyes have come to "read" stucco, which is to associate it with cheap, mass production. On the flip side, I am sure that plenty of people who have fled memories of paint-peeling, termite-y looking, dingy clapboard houses view/viewed stuccoed homes with an entirely different set of aesthetic expectations.

Gateways/New arrivals/auto correct

Every now and then there is a special word that weaves in and out of our thoughts, like a string of pearls, rises in conversation, insinuates. Today's word is Gateways -- and it came into my life Sunday when we crossed from closed water to open near Long Beach. On Monday, I write a post mentioning the breakwater in Long Beach, and imagine a new kind of gateway -- one that would lead into north Echo Park from Sunset.* No sooner do I commit that thought to blog than the following morning I go to Chango with my 10-year-old cousin, Lydia, and my daughter, Madeleine. While the girls eat cheese sandwiches, I browse Coagula and see that The Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park has advertised. CCSEP seeks submissions of designs for five gateways to Elysian Park. And now I remember a conversation I had a few days ago with my friend Jim Schneeweis about the Gateways residential mental health facility on Lake Shore in Echo Park. Every now and then Gateways tries to buy one of the bungalows on Lobdell Place where Jim lives; but the neighbors raise their pitchforks, and the Gateways beast goes back into its cave behind the great high walls.

In any case, Tuesday. At Chango, I find the scene much as I left it last time I was there about a month ago. Across the room, Nikki Monninger of the Silversun Pickups chats with Kime Buzzelli, artist and proprietor of Show Pony boutique, a few doors down on Echo Park Ave. Monninger has shed the rollerskates she always seemed to be wearing last year. I just checked the Silversun Pickups MySpace space and found that the band has more than 57,000 friends, in addition to her pals at Chango. THAT is a lot of friends.

Further browsing in Coagula and I learn that photographer Gary Leonard has placed his own advertisement. Postcard prints for a small sum, delivered directly from the artist. I heard something recently about a portion of Leonard's archives being destroyed in a flood at his Elysian Heights home. The nightmare thought of that kind of occurrence breaks through the sunny morning at Chango for a moment, as laptops all around click away. They are between exhibitions in the coffee shop, and the walls are bare.


Make way for Goslings: My friend Martin Cox updates us with this report of Canada geese high-stepping at Echo Park Lake.

Photo: Goslings, April 2, 2007
By Martin Cox

* Correction: In Monday's Whale post I wrote that the closest we get to whales in Echo Park is the blimps that swim overhead during Dodger games. BUT I had forgotten that a week or two ago Machine Project planned an event -- which I had hoped to witness if only for a minute or two but ended up missing -- in which they blared recorded whale calls from speakers at the gallery. A new kind of music for Alvarado traffic.

Machine's email promotion for the whale event:

Dear Friends, Friday night we will have three 2007 Escalades parked in front of Machine blasting whale songs. And other stuff. Saturday, we have a concert in the secret gallery that can be listened to on speaker phone.
Both events were free.

April 3, 2007

A whale/Sister Aimee

Saturday the skies above Echo Park (and Silver Lake and Hollywood) were full of a different kind of smoke: I (heart) baby, which was already drifting away by the time I drove under it on my way to the freeway onramp (and then the freeway beyond). This past week I have revised my stay-close-to-home lifestyle, making repeated trips to the west side and the beach, largely thanks to an out-of-town visitor who loves the ocean.

So, Sunday we packed up and drove to Long Beach where a whale tour cruise was scheduled to leave at noon. It was a beautiful day for the trip, and we wanted to see the huge mammals -- the only kind of whales we see in Echo Park are the blimps that bob the skies on their way to Dodger Stadium. On the boat, our captain/personal standup comic plied us with paranoid jokes about spies and the like as he urged us to frequent the bar below deck. It took about forty minutes to reach open sea. It was sunny and brisk, the water getting cleaner and cleaner as we got farther from shore. Our ten-year-old cousin, Lydia, seemed to enjoy the sight of the ocean and the seagulls flying in the wake of the boat. The captain promised us that a whale had been seen lounging not too far off the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and we were going to see him/her. He said the whale may be resting after overfeeding. But when we got to where the whale was supposed to be, more or less, parked we saw nothing for several minutes. The boat rocked as we stayed in place then turned slightly as everyone looked for a whale in our midst. Then we spotted it. A nose bobbing up, breaking through the kelp, a gray whale. Then it went down. Then it came up again, feebly. We watched it do this for several minutes. The captain said, "I'm not going to lie to you, he's not having a good day." He said the whale, which appeared to be a juvenile and also appeared to be alone, may have lost its sonar and was in danger of being beached. He said, "Say a prayer for the poor little guy or whatever you do." We left the sick whale and headed back. The captain promised a close view of sea lions on a buoy, which he delivered. When we were about to enter Angels Gate entry to the harbor, a healthy whale breached and then disappeared from view, rising again with a spew of water about fifty yards from the boat. I was glad my cousin, who lives in Maryland, got to see a healthy whale, too.

We went back to harbor, and then we drove back to Echo Park. Breaching Sunset at the corner of Echo Park Ave. felt like entering our own landlocked harbor: Echo Park Gate.

Sister Aimee Semple McPherson is one of the more brazen features of Echo Park history. For those of us who didn't TVo the PBS hour-long program last night, NPR has an audio version that's sure to be just as colorful. The link kindly provided by Victoria Bernal.

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